Getty Conservation Institute facts for kids

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The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), in Los Angeles, California, is a program of the J. Paul Getty Trust. It is headquartered at the Getty Center but also has facilities at the Getty Villa. It commenced operation in 1985. The GCI is a private international research institution dedicated to advancing conservation practice through the creation and delivery of knowledge. It "serves the conservation community through scientific research, education and training, model field projects, and the dissemination of the results of both its own work and the work of others in the field" and "adheres to the principles that guide the work of the Getty Trust: service, philanthropy, teaching, and access." GCI works in both art conservation and architectural conservation.

GCI conducts scientific research related to art conservation. It offers formal education and training programs. GCI published a number of scholarly books. GCI pays for field projects around the world to preserve cultural heritage.

Scientific projects

GCI scientists study the decay of objects and buildings, and how to prevent or stop such decay. One of many projects in this area involved the effect of outdoor and indoor air pollutants on museum collections. Another project analyzed the cause of deterioration of the sandstone in the original National Capitol Columns now at the United States National Arboretum.

In addition, GCI "conducts scientific research on materials' composition." For example, a project on the conservation of photographs has as one of its objectives the creation of an "Atlas of Analytical Signatures of Photographic Processes" which will provide "a precise chemical fingerprint of all the 150 or so ways pictures have been developed." As a part of that project, Getty scientists once examined the world's first photograph from nature by Nicéphore Niépce. Using X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and other techniques during the 2002-2003 project, they found (for example) that bitumen of Judea was present in the image.

Education and training

Training of conservation works is an important part of GCI's work. For example, GCI collaborated with other organizations to create a course "to assist museum personnel in safeguarding their collections from the effects of natural and human-made emergencies." Also, GCI developed a course on the "Fundamentals of the Conservation of Photographs" which is now taught in eastern Europe by the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava and the Slovak National Library. Besides courses and workshops, GCI has also been involved with long-term education programs, such as establishing a Master's degree program in Archaeological and Ethnographic Conservation in collaboration with the University of California, Los Angeles.

Field projects

GCI workers travel to other places to protect items important to history (field projects). GCI's field projects are "selected based on how they fit the institute's goals of raising public awareness, contributing new, broadly applicable information to the field, and supporting cultural heritage" and "must be executed in collaboration with partners… who must be serious about their efforts… so that projects are assured of continuing after the Getty's involvement ceases." Among other completed GCI field projects were efforts to preserve the Mogao Caves and Yungang Grottoes in China (announced in 1989); to restore prehistoric rock paintings of Sierra de San Francisco in Baja California Sur (1994); and to protect ancient buildings and archaeological sites in Iraq following the start of the Iraq war (2004).

Dissemination of information

It has been stated that "perhaps the institute's most profound contribution to conservation is the dissemination of information and methods learned in the field." GCI spreads information in conferences; lectures; books; and online publications, newsletters, video, and audio.

The following are selected books published by GCI:

Here is a selection of courses by GCI:

  • ARIS (International Course on Architectural Records, Inventories and Information Systems for Conservation)

Senior staff

GCI Directors
1985-90 Luis Monreal
1990-98 Miguel Angel Corzo
1998- Timothy P. Whalen

Since GCI was established, it has had three directors. Besides the director, the GCI senior staff includes:

  • Associate Director, Programs: Jeanne Marie Teutonico
  • Associate Director, Administration: Kathleen Gaines
  • Chief Scientist: Giacomo Chiari
  • Head of Education: Kathleen Dardes
  • Head of Field Projects: Susan Macdonald

In 2009, GCI had a $33 million budget. This is less than the $41 million budget for 2008.

Getty conservation activities outside GCI

In addition to the work of the GCI, the J. Paul Getty Trust contributes to the conservation field through the J. Paul Getty Museum conservation departments, the conservation collection in the library at the Getty Research Institute, and conservation grants provided by the Getty Foundation.


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